Had To Be Productions Raises Awareness On LGBT Issues

“Because You Know Me” made its debut performance in BC’S Carlson Theatre For Students, Faculty and Staff…

LGBTQ_WEB At the beginning of “Because You Know Me,” a play presented by Had to Be Productions, Carrie Gibson, performer and facilitator of the company noted, “What we want is for people to feel.”

Gibson and fellow actor and facilitator, Anthony Curry, performed in the Carlson Theater on April 20 and placed a human face and voice on the issues that affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community on a daily basis.

“Because You Know Me” brings together a collection of stories from twenty-two people who address LGBT inclusion from a variety of perspectives.

Gibson and Curry portrayed the stories about life, work, military service, community and parenting, and how those areas can be affected by misunderstanding and bias.

Aside from the stories and experiences by people who identify as LGBT, the play also includes stories from family members and people who are not LGBT, but have had enlightening experiences as they confronted their own biases.

To lighten the mood on some of the stories’ harsh realities, the play also included humor in historical transcripts presented from the voice of journalist Walter Cronkite, to illustrate how far the LGBT community has come and how much farther they have left to go to transform the U.S. into a truly inclusive nation.

Interviews with people like Anita Bryant, Pat Robertson and Matthew Shepard’s family were imitated.

“You could just go to a computer and search for who said what about homosexuality,” said Curry. “We wanted to make sure that everything we said was what they said. Of course, we used Walter Cronkite’s voice, because that’s a good device. And I could do it.”

The play spoke to a reality that many people, not just those in the LGBT community, can relate to.

“This isn’t just about LGBT inclusion. It really will hit a bell for anybody who can’t bring their authentic self to work or to school,” explained Gibson. “Those that have to hide a part of who they are, that’s really relevant to who they are. So it really is transferable in a lot of ways.”

To find the stories, Curry and Gibson spent over two months writing to different corporations, asking if they could be led to the person that was in charge of the corporation’s LGBT group.

Through networking, they were able to interview people through mutual friends and corporations like Boeing and Aerospace.

“We take every single word that they say and we transcribe every word. Then we look at those and decide who’s telling what story,” said Curry, on how he and Gibson worked to make every story fit. “Most people go all over the place. They’ve got a million different stories.”

After the play was written; since Gibson lives in Los Angeles, Curry lives in Seattle, and their director John Vreeke works in Washington DC; they spent three weeks on the telephone rehearsing.  There were then only three; approximately five-hour rehearsals.

This was the first time “Because You Know Me” has been performed in front of an audience.

“The thing that’s scary about a preview is that we don’t know if it’s going to work out,” said Gibson. “And then if we find out it’s going to work, what’s even scarier is thinking, ‘Will we ever do it again?’”

After the play, audience members suggested Curry and Gibson to perform in places like high schools and churches.

“Please do take cards. See if there’s someone you can contact and say, ‘You need to try this,’” Gibson said to the audience. “There’s only so much we can do to get the word out. Really what we do is perform it and then we try to market it. We only market it if you give us people to market it to.”

Gibson mentioned that many people have asked the production company to put their performances on DVDs and to post them on YouTube, but she and Curry have decided not to.

Gibson explained, “There’s something really powerful that you feel when you’re with real people that you can’t avoid eye contact with and are feeling things when they’re standing right in front of you. That’s inviting you to imagine and to have empathy.”

With their portrayals of a variety of different stories, the balance of humor and pain, and their ability to get the audience to relate to others who have different perspectives and experiences, Had to Be Productions made it difficult for anyone to leave without feeling anything.